Author: Massimo Banzi
Publisher: Make Books, 2008
Aimed at: Newcomers to electronics
Pros: Introduces an open source hardware platform
Cons: Not enough space devoted to practical detail
Reviewed by: Harry Fairhead
Arduino is an open source hardware platform that can be used to implement all sorts of interesting projects. You can buy ready made units, buy and build a kit or design and make your own PCB. No matter how you acquire the hardware you can use the free-to-download development system to program the result. As an open source project there are lots of websites explaining how it all works but the quality is, inevitably very variable. This book is by one of the co-founders of the project and as such you might think that it would be authoritative and essential – unfortunately it is neither. It is a strange “trendy” presentation of electronics and programming as a branch of popular culture with various attempts to try to make electronics seem easy with comparisons to electricity being like water flowing in a pipe etc which may be helpful for the beginner.
The first part of this very slim book is wasted on explaining the philosophy of make and patch electronics. If you have never encountered these ideas then they might be inspiring. Otherwise don’t let their repetition put you off too much because eventually we do get to the actual details of the hardware and creating programs – or sketches. The book might just inspire a complete beginner to do something with an Arduino but if you know anything about electronics or programming you might well find the presentation irritating. No matter what you already know you will be sad that so few pages are devoted to the practicalities of using the Arduino.